Most organizations use hierarchy to establish stable leadership. The idea is, that if everyone knows who is higher up in the hierarchy, they will know how they relate to others. Some are on the same level when it is within a team, others will be higher up the hierarchy or lower. This allows for a quite simple scheme of delegating, cooperating and reporting.
Responsibility in such a scheme is specific to one’s task. It becomes less specific the higher up the hierarchy someone is located. The less specific the responsibility is, the more complicate it becomes. It requires to lead teams or hierarchies of people handling their individual responsibilities.
Tasks are also aligned with the hierarchy. It adds two streams of information. One that bundles the reporting related to tasks towards the top and one that splits the tasks downwards through delegation.
The principle is easy to grasp and give clarity to leadership. The handling may still seem complicated. Handling reporting and delegation doesn’t need a lot of negotiation or discussion.
Things change as culture shifts. Organizations move to other more flexible organizational models. The connection economy transforms tasks and projects by using more and more “black boxes”.
Where hierarchies disappear leadership needs to find new ways to be actionable. Telling others what to do doesn’t work anymore. What’s needed now for stable leadership is social competence.